Previously on The Affair: Everything happened.
We open this season with Noah awaking from a dream — one that’s seems awfully angst-ridden, set somewhere dark and hazy, maybe or maybe not running down a man who may or may not be Scott Lockhart, on a dark and windy road. (This episode was written by show creator Sarah Treem, so my guess is that anything that appears obvious isn’t.) But then he wakes up and, wait a second, now he’s in my dream. Well, my dream house anyway.This place is incredible! It’s on the water with its own dock, and inside it’s airy and oozing with charm. It’s so charming, it even has an old-timey toilet — one that Noah yanks too hard and appears to break. Charm is tough sometimes.
Turns out my dream house is in Cold Spring, N.Y. — a not-too-terrible commute into the city — where Noah is meeting with Harry, his editor. Harry is not into the new ending of the book. Noah argues for subtlety. I love it when the show sort of sits up straight and talks to directly to us, the audience:
Harry: “It’s two people sitting down to dinner!”
Noah: “With an unimaginable secret between them.”
Then later, getting all sorts of meta when it comes to this show, Noah says: “Murder is salacious. It’s cheap.”
Harry: “It doesn’t have to be: have you read Of Mice and Men?”
Oh, The Affair, how I have missed you. There’s lots of money talk — Noah can’t get more of what’s owed to him until he has an accepted manuscript. Harry also wants to know just how much of the book is what went down with him and Alison and the Lockhart gang. Noah gives the answer all writers will (and, by the way, they are always lying): It’s just fiction. More Steinbeck is name dropped; make of that what you will.
Afterward Harry walks through Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and runs into a friend from the neighborhood. They awkwardly chit-chat about getting together. Noah gets a little twitchy. He rounds the corner, and we see why: There’s a moving truck waiting, along with two young guys hanging out. Noah tells them to wait and he’ll bring his stuff out.
Margaret greets him icily at the door and informs him she sent the kids away. They immediately start sniping at each other — she tells him that his things are the basement. By things, she means a couple of suitcases and a cheap, purple folding chair. There’s talk of how nasty things will get and how Noah is just after money. He flips his lid a little and starts grabbing books off the shelf, which enrages Margaret further (not that she needed much help), and when he grabs a painting off the wall — one that his father painted — things boil over. Noah tells her through clenched teeth that if she doesn’t move aside he’ll kick her down the stairs.
Of course that’s when poor, stomach-aching Martin comes to the door. Oops, turns out he was home after all. Kudos to the writers, by the way, on Martin’s stomachache — a sign, perhaps, that Martin is internalizing unhappiness. Anyway, Noah is bummed because he wanted to take Martin to a Yankees game but now can’t because Martin is seeing a therapist.
Outside things don’t get much better when Noah runs into curly-haired Trevor. This is a kid I can seriously get down with — he finds theater camp too sporty because it’s outside and wants to go to the movies instead. Poor Trevor has the wrong idea when he hears that Noah is meeting with Helen — they are not getting back together. Noah gives him some hard truths: They’re getting a divorce, and he’s in love with someone else. Trevor does not take it well and punches Noah in the face. It will get better in college, buddy, I promise!
Noah heads to a mediator’s office where Helen is sitting, her usual composed herself. The dude running this thing is a grinning fool and, to my unknowledgeable ear, making inappropriate jokes.
They start getting into the division of property and such: The house is Helen’s; the store too. When they get to Noah’s book advance and potential profits, Helen gives a well-timed smirk. “The word ‘profits’ struck me as funny,” she explains. Zing. When he explains that he wants shared custody and she counters that there’s no way that he could find a four-bedroom apartment with his measly earnings, he informs her that his advance is for $400K. She looks startled. “Good for you,” she says, at least 92 sincerely. He explains that he’s been living in a guest house on an estate in Cold Spring, N.Y., but will look for something in the city.
After, he complains that that this mediator is a yahoo. Helen says he came highly recommended — after all he did the Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss divorce. As she hails a cab, Noah complains Whitney won’t return his calls. Helen is like, “Well listen, she hates you, and by the way, I don’t want the kids around her.” I think we all know who she means. He tells her not-so-nicely that she can’t get everything she wants. She’s like, “Wow, dude, you are a real D-bag.”
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Noah arrives back to the magical house on the Hudson where Alison is preparing dinner. They exchange pleasantries and sit outside and eat under a pretty sky. He pulls her up to dance after telling her how happy he is, and then they even make out a little bit. Oh boy, these two.
After dinner Noah walks out to his dock with that Williams chair he rescued from the basement and sits down a happy man. There are twinkling lights in the trees behind him, and, hell, Damien Rice is playing. What a world he’s living in! What a time to be alive! He opens a beer: the very picture of a man who has it all together. He smiles a contented smile. Behind him we see a (not at all metaphorical) storm cloud headed his way.
Annnnnd then we jump to the future where Noah is much less contented and in jail. There’s our old friend Detective Whatshisname, who brings him coffee and is sweet talking him about how he should cut a deal now because the judge is local, etc., etc., etc. This detective is Noah’s friend, see. His new friend advises him to take a plea. Noah looks like maybe that’s not a terrible idea but, in the end, tells the detective that he wants a effin’ lawyer. Fair.
Next: Helen’s recollections of the same day involves a lot more sex.